Movie Review: ‘Phobia’

By Neha Ravindran

Movie: Phobia

Director: Pawan Kripalani

Cast: Radhika Apte, Satyadeep Mishra, Yashawani Dayama

Genre: Psychological thriller

What is a phobia? Fear: irrational, illogical but persistent! Actually, let me reframe, illogical and irrational for the onlooker; a reality that they cannot escape from for the onlooker. The movie Phobia is the story of a woman who suffers from severe agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterised by unexplainable fear of open spaces. The movie showcases the struggles of an agoraphobic woman whose plight is difficult to be understood by others.

Mehak (Radhika Apte) is a victim of molestation. As a result of the incident, she develops severe agoraphobia and refuses to step out of her house for 4 months. Due to frictions with her sister, Mehak moves out another apartment, rented by her friend Shaan (Satyadeep Mishra). In this new house, Mehak begins to sense a presence around her and sees images, nobody else can. But can what we believe is another’s imagination, be actually be her reality? What will happen if one fine day, your scariest nightmare comes alive with the ferocity that rips apart the thin line separating your imagination from your reality?

Radhika Apte is phenomenal actress who has proved her calibre through movies like Manjhi –The Mountain Man and the short film Aahilya by Sujoy Gosh. Phobia is her first Bollywood movie as the lead. Radhika was the make or break point of this movie and she has essayed her part with great finesse. She worked hard to understand the severity of this disorder and has managed to step down into the soul of the character. It is often difficult for people in general to understand irrational anxieties and panic attacks because as I said it, it’s irrational to the onlooker. But to live it through the eyes of a sufferer taps into our own small pool of irrationalities that we keep safe and hidden from prying eyes.

Phobia is undoubtedly the best psychological thriller ever churned out by Bollywood. It’s a tricky business to create psychological thriller; you see it’s not a horror movie, yet it is spooky enough to give you goose-bumps. And the most crucial aspect of this genre is its power to toy with the audience’s mind where logic and irrationality are bound in a tussle. The script by Pavan Kirpalani, Pooja Ladha Surti and Arun Sukuma is a brilliantly woven narrative with no loose ends. It’s like a maze where you will keep losing yourself and find a new way out, building up an anxiety and dread very close to what the character in the movie is experiencing. Music by Daniel George and the Background Score Karan Gaur hit all the right notes to make you jump out of your seat yet cling on to the edge in anticipation.

Phobia is a must watch movie for this weekend. Be ready to be spooked out of your skin!

My verdict: ****